Worry about a mega-solar storm not just fiction

 

Power-grid-down-solar-stormSince releasing STONE AGE in April, I’ve received many questions from readers and media about the viability of a mega-solar storm taking out our world’s technology, starting with our American power grid.  We’ll I hate to say, “I told you so!” But, in a way, that’s what I am now saying.

BusinessWeek, yesterday ‘reported’ (http://buswk.co/1qdJaJF) about the many businesses already planning around current solar storms and the potential for future giant ones. For instance, did you know that Delta Airlines has to reroute dozens of flights per year because of the destruction solar storms play on air-to-ground communications?

They even waxed a little apocalyptic when they quoted a National Academy of Sciences’ report from 2008 which said,

a severe [solar] storm could disable hundreds of the U.S. grid’s high-voltage transformers, leaving more than 130 million people in the dark for months.

You might want to re-read this again, and really consider what that means. We’re talking most of America is without power for “MONTHS!” This is not the stuff of fiction, this is real science.

It’s true there are some dissenters as to the scale of destruction, but no one doubts we would have big-time problems if another Carrington Event occurred in our lifetimes.

And what are we doing to protect ourselves? Very little. A jolt from a large CME (coronal mass ejection) from the sun will fry most of our nation’s giant transformers, bringing down our grid for a long time. Keep in mind each of these giant transformers cost $millions and almost two years to replace – that’s when the power is working! Oh, and consider most transformers are manufactured overseas, not here. Yet, if each transformer were shielded, it could withstand all the sun cares to dish out. Some state governments are making investments in protecting their grid, but there are very few and they are spending way to little to make a big difference.

The solution is simple. Rather than spending $billions to find questionable solutions to debatable a man-made global warming issue, we need to redirect these funds to protecting our grid. To properly shield from a mega-solar storm the 4000 or so transformers that represent the most important components of our power grid will cost about $200 billion (by some estimates). However, if we continue to do nothing and another Event occurs in our lifetimes, we could easily be facing $trillions in losses to our economy, not to mention the mass death that most certainly would occur.

Sorry to be so bleak folks, but we are getting warnings daily and yet we are doing nothing about it. I’m reminded of the sermon joke I’ve heard many times given at the pulpit at my church and I’m sure many others:

A hurricane was coming and the town’s sheriff knew about a hold-out who had not headed previous warning to leave to higher ground. So, the sheriff told this man – we’ll call him Thomas - “Hey Thomas, you need to leave because this whole area is going to flood.”

Thomas said, “Thanks sheriff, but I know that God will protect me, I’m staying!” And with that the sheriff drove off.

Later, the hurricane roared in and Thomas’ house was flooding and so a boat with an aid-worker pulled up to Thomas’s 2nd floor window and yelled on a loudspeaker, “You need to come with us because you will surely drown if you stay.”

Thomas yelled back out the window, “Thanks, but I know God will protect me, I’m staying!”

A short time later, the flood waters were up to the roof’s edge, and a Coast Guard helicopter spotted Thomas on the roof and sent a rope down and on the loud speaker announced, “Mister, you need to come with us or you will surely drown.”

Thomas, signaled back to him, “I’m fine! God will protect me.  Go.”

Thomas drowned!

In heaven, Thomas asked God, “I don’t understand Lord, I am a faithful servant, why did you let me die?”

God said, “Thomas, I sent you the Sheriff in a car, then I sent you an aid-worker in a boat, and then I sent you the Coast Guard in a helicopter. How much more warning did you need?”

Indeed, how much more warning do we need?

STONE AGE Completely Reedited PLUS a Bonus!

[This post was updated 7/10/2014]

StoneAgeNewFinalAs the old motto goes, you live and learn. Well, I have sure learned a lot in these past couple months since publishing my first novel, STONE AGE.For many reasons, STONE AGE has been completely reedited, the cover has been updated, and most significantly, I have added the first three chapters of, STONE AGE II, the second book in the series. Are you ready for the best news?  You can download this for FREE (if you originally purchased STONE AGE from Amazon)!

Why do this?
In spite of what some have said, STONE AGE was in fact reviewed and edited by a “professional” editor. However, this editor dealt only with minor punctuation and spelling issues. Unfortunately, there were also many other substantive errors which were missed by both of us. Additionally, I forgot to fact check some of the Spanish used in the book.  All of this was my mistake – I blame no one but myself. After hearing from many readers through reviews and emails, I decided to hire a very respected new editor, Karen Conlin to do a complete reedit of the entire book. By the way, if you’re an author, I strongly recommend you consider using her.

Are you gnashing your teeth or tearing at your clothes yet? Don’t worry, there are no changes to the story and therefore no new surprises – I wouldn’t do that to all of you who have already invested your time and money into this book. However, after approximately three thousand changes, STONE AGE is now a much stronger story than it was before.

Didn’t you say new material too?
For those of you anxiously waiting to find out what happens next, here is your chance. In addition to strengthening the existing story, I have introduced the first three chapters (about 4000 words) of STONE AGE II, Book #2 in the Stone Age Saga. You don’t have to wait until the fall to get your next STONE AGE fix. Get it now! Oh, and be warned, there is a new revelation in the new material – see if you can catch it.

How do I get this for free?
If you purchased STONE AGE for Kindle, you can download the newly updated STONE AGE, including the three new chapters for FREE from Amazon. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Visit the Manage Your Content and Devices page on Amazon.com;
  2. Find Stone Age on your list of books and then click on the little “…” button (it’s square) under the Actions column;
  3. From the list of choices offered, select “Update Available”

Below is how this might look:

Update-Available

WARNING: When you update your book, you will loose any notes or highlights you’ve made if you don’t also make sure that Automatic Book Update is turned “ON” in your Settings. You can find this by clicking on the Settings tab (again in the Manage your Content and Devices area) and you’ll find Automatic Book Update lower on the page.

Please Note: Setting your Automatic Book Update to “ON” does NOT update your book. Amazon never updates your book unless you manually tell them to update this. I was incorrect when I posted this last month.

Will you receive official notice from Amazon too?
Although I notified all of you via my website of this change here first.  However, I also wanted every one of the thousands of readers of STONE AGE to get an updated version of the book too. This is why I notified Amazon telling them of the major changes made.  If Amazon agrees, they will actually email every buyer of a Kindle version of STONE AGE. You don’t have to wait for the official notice though: Go get your updated copy today!

Let others know!
Please be sure to write your comments below if you had any problems (or success) getting your updated copy.  If you did have problems getting the update, I know between others who read this and me, we should be able to find a solution. Finally, my sincere thanks to everyone for your positive comments and even your criticisms – we all have the same goal, to make STONE AGE better.  And thank you once again, all of you for making STONE AGE such as success!

No 1 Amazon Best Seller

No1-Best-Seller

At this moment, STONE AGE is the #1 Amazon Best Seller for Post Apocalyptic No1 Best SellerFiction and also #1 for Dystopian Fiction.  STONE AGE is also among the top 300 of all eBooks offered by Amazon (At this moment, it’s #264).

What a ride from obscurity only five weeks ago and then rising to the highest level in both its listed genres.

Of course, the Kindle Countdown continues through 5/12.  You can still obtain a Kindle copy of STONE AGE for only $0.99 until then, and $1.99 after this through 5/15.

Thanks again to all of you who have purchased and read STONE AGE!

Let the Kindle Countdown begin

Kindle Countdown DealsStarting today, STONE AGE is part of Amazon’s Kindle Countdown Deals.  This will likely be the only promotion offered for STONE AGE, until the second book of the series is released in the Fall.  So, if you haven’t purchased STONE AGE yet, this is your best shot at getting what 24 reviewers have rated 4.5 Stars on Amazon.com.

Why am I doing this?  Am I crazy, offering STONE AGE for less than a buck?  I may be, but I wanted to expose many more to the exciting and scary story of STONE AGE.

Stone Age is listed #1 in SF&F

Stone Age is listed #1 in SF&F

By listing STONE AGE on Kindle’s Countdown Deals, I am bringing a lot more exposure to the book in ways I couldn’t have done even if I had a large publisher’s pocket book, which I don’t.

Besides, who doesn’t love a deal?  And dare I say, there is no better entertainment deal on the planet right now: Consider comparable forms of entertainment and their respective costs:

 

  • $9.99 for a first run HD movie = 2 hours of fun
  • $1.85 for a Starbucks Coffee = 15 minutes of fun
  • $0.99 for a Kindle copy of STONE AGE = many hours of fun
  • Buying STONE AGE before the next Carrington Event and before it goes back up to $2.99 = priceless!

Need I say more?  I know, I’ve said too much already.

Allow me one final plea.  For those of you who have already read STONE AGE, please tell your friends and family.  Introduce them to the novel/series that is taking America and the UK by [solar] storm, and has already hit Amazon’s Best Seller List.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to get our Apocalyptic Updates. They are free, never spammy, happen only once or twice per month (depending on if I have anything to say), announces events and updates, and gives you access to special freebies or promotions ONLY available to subscribers.

Fans of Post Apocalyptic Fiction – Try First Activation

Now for something completely different; I’m not going to talk about me or STONE AGE for once.  For those of you starved for good post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction and are breathlessly waiting for the second book of STONE AGE – I promise it’s coming, I offer this recommendation: First Activation by authors D.A. Wearmouth & his brother M.P. Wearmouth.

First-Activation

This is a face paced thrill ride through the apocalypse, with a few unique twists.  Told in the first person, the authors take you on a pulse-pounding journey that is quite unexpected. You won’t know who or what is the reason for the cataclysmic events which causes millions to turn on each other.  No, it’s not zombies; that would be too easy and too often done.  Come on, isn’t today’s zombie yesterday’s vampire?

An added pleasure to this book was getting to meet Darren “D.A.” Wearmouth by Skype and discussing this first book of his series and his next book: you guessed it, Second Activation.  Like me, Wearmouth loves to read the genres in which he writes, especially post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction.  You can tell he had fun writing this one.

His two protagonists are somewhat regular guys, although they had some previous military experience.  Yet, they commit errors just like any of us would in a world without the technological supports we have come to rely on.  Most books offer us a main character this often an amalgam of Jack Bower (or James Bond for those in the UK) & MacGyver (sorry can’t think of the UK equivalent), able to save the day with one perfectly placed bullet or knife throw.  These guys are not him, but that’s what makes the book more real.

I was a lover of fiction before I picked up the pen to become an author, and as such, I want from other fictional books the same as many readers.  First Activation ticks off many of my required boxes: entertaining, check; some sort of apocalypse reaping havoc upon the world, check; lots of action, check; unexpected plot turns & surprises, check; and desire to read more of the story line, whether it’s a series or not; check.

Another fascinating revelation about First Activation is that I read it a few months ago and yet I still vividly remember several of the scenes, as if I had just experienced them.  This doesn’t happen too often, as most books’ narratives, are habitual retreads, which are lost in the soup of my own mental meanderings and other books read so long ago .  Wearmouth’s tome is different; It is memorable. This is good, because it will carry me until the long awaited release of Second Activation, which I understand is only held up because of their publisher, 47North wanting give it the wide release it deserves.

For anyone who loves post-apocalyptic fiction, I believe you find Wearmouth’s First Activation an enormously fun summer read.   Five Stars!  What a great debut for D.A. Wearmouth and his brother.   Good Show guys!

It’s Official: Stone Age is an Amazon Best Seller!

Now #6 on Amazon's Best Seller List for Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Now #6 on Amazon’s Best Seller List for Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Well it is official, thanks to you, Stone Age is an Amazon Best Seller!  Last week, it screamed into the top ten on Amazon’s Best Seller list for Post-Apocalyptic fiction.  Today, it edged out Hugh Howey’s fine book Sand – sorry Hugh – to rise to the #6 Best Seller overall for this genre.  It is also #6 on the Best Seller list for Dystopian fiction.

Stone Age still remains in the top ten of Hot New Releases for Post-Apocalyptic fiction, after having jumped onto it April 22nd.  Now it is #2, behind the also new and enormously popular, Extinction Point: Revelations, by Paul Antony Jones - it’s the series finale and followed by thousands of avid readers.  It is also #2 on the list for Dystopian fiction.

Stone Age will fall off this Hot New list after Wednesday, since only books which were published in the last 30 days can be included, and Stone Age was published on 4/8/14.

No 870

Stone Age currently sits at #870 overall for all Kindle eBooks on Amazon.  That may sound large, but this is out of however many millions of books Amazon offers on Kindle.

 

Once again, I am so thankful to my readers.  You have humbled me with your interest in this book.  And yes, I hear you about getting the next book in the series released as soon as possible.  I am hard at work on book 2, Stone Age – New Realities (http://stoneageseries.com/about/new-realities/).

One final note, if you haven’t yet signed up for my Apocalypse Updates mailing list, please do so.  It’s free, never spammy, and the quickest way you will find out what’s new or what is coming next.  HINT:  I have a big announcement this coming Saturday!

Here is the sign-up form:

STONE AGE is #5 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases

What an exciting past week!

Hot New ReleasesSTONE AGE was just one of the many thousands of science fiction novels and millions of books listed on Amazon.com.  Then a funny thing happened, you started buying STONE AGE.  In a flash, STONE AGE became the #5 book on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Post-Apocalyptic fiction and #6 for Dystopian fiction – Hey, I still have a hard time remembering how to spell those words.

On Tuesday, it was #930 compared to all books on Amazon.

Even today, STONE AGE is in the Top 20 of all Post-Apocalyptic books.

I want to thank all of you who purchased and read STONE AGE, written by this unknown author.  Many thanks as well to those who wrote a review on Amazon.  HINT:  There’s still time to do so.  If you haven’t written a review and you’ve purchased the book, don’t forget the gift promised at the very back of the book.  Hurry though, because this will run out when we hit 50.  Don’t know what I just said?  Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.

What about the second book?
We’ll you’ll be glad to hear that I am hard at work on STONE AGE – New Realities and expect to release this second book in the series this Fall!   I’ll send an update to everyone so that you have first crack at it, assuming you are on my Survivor Updates list.

Many thanks again!

MLB

Birth Announcement: It’s a Book!

Birth Announcement
Name: Stone Age
Born: April 8th, 2014
Weight: 220 pages

First, my apologies to all mothers and mothers-to-be in this audience I will offend.   Second, apologies to all others I offend for referring to an idea in the gender-neutral “it” and later my progeny as “him”; you’ll understand shortly.

That said I feel like I have just given birth, as much as any man could imagine.  It was not an easy birth, mind you, with all the labor pains…  Wait a second; I’m getting ahead of myself.

This started over a year ago, when I first saw “It”, that magical idea that made the sparks fly.  “It” was an idea I had never seen before and when I saw “It”, I was captivated.  I first checked “It” out to make sure no one else was ‘dating’ “It”.  “It” didn’t have a Facebook page – dah, “It” is an idea – so I did some research online to examine the prospects for a long term relationship.  I know, I was moving a little fast, especially for someone who never did this before.  I couldn’t help it.  I guess, once I saw “It” was unencumbered, I thought let’s hook up – Isn’t that what the young people call it today.  We – It and I – consummated our relationship, over a year ago.  I suppose I should have written down the date so we could celebrate our anniversary and I could remember to buy flowers, but hey I’m a guy: we forget these things.  That day, I became pregnant with my story.  Yes, I’m stretching here.  Yet, in a way, it was like a pregnancy, from what I’m told.  I loved my story-pregnancy, although I would have urges at the strangest times to feed an illogical hunger.  For instance, I would get up early and start working on chapter 30 and then go right to chapter 10.  It lasted eleven months – yes, my story-pregnancy took longer than others who experience this condition often.  Before I knew it, my story-pregnancy was over and I went into labor – an appropriate term, if there ever was one, for what happens right before this kind of birth.

Now, my story-pregnancy was easy, and fun, but labor was very hard.  Many people were in my ‘delivery room’ – I couldn’t have done it alone – trying to help me along with the birth of my new baby story.  My wife – she seems to tolerate my relationship with “It” better than I could have imagined – was there, so was my editor, cover artist, beta readers, and reviewers…  Wow, it was crowded.  After over two months of sweat and hard work, on Tuesday morning, 4/8/2014 around 8AM, my baby story was born.

I named him – sorry gender stereo-typing now (remember I’m a guy) – Stone Age.  He’s a little skinny at 220 pages, but I’m hoping he’ll have more strapping brothers soon to protect him.  I can almost see him now… Graduating from the “exclusive” Kindle KDP and going off on his own to work for every sale at Kobo, Apple, B&N, and other places of employment.  I’m so proud of him.  I know there is still a lot of work to do, getting him prepared for graduation.  I’m sure as his parent I’ll get schooled as well.  Regardless, I have confidence he will succeed.  After all, I’m his parent, what parent would think anything less of his/her offspring?

Of course, the scary part is right now.  I chose not to have him baptized by a God-like publishing house.  So, he’ll be on his own to suffer the comments and reviews of those who just won’t understand him or don’t like him.  Sure, those comments will hurt me, his parent, far more than him.  However, I will be there to support him through it all.

I have more good news.  I’m expecting again.  I already know it will be another boy; a brother.  I’m going to call him Stone Age – New Realities.  Probably a dumb name, but it’s not as dumb as some of the names I’ve seen others name their progeny.

I hope and pray, others will like my little Stone Age.  He’s probably a little rough around the edges, since doctors say that he has a split personality: part “Apocalyptic” and “Dystopian” and part “Science Fiction – Thriller”.  A lot of people like those personalities – I sure do.  I feel confident, that in time, a lot of people will get to know Stone Age and his brothers.  Yep, there will be others – I’m hoping for a very large family someday.

Anyway, I was so excited; I had to share this with everyone who might read this.  Do you think I should pass out cigars?

Ok, I must confess.  I had another reason for writing this, besides sharing my excitement: Stone Age could really use some friends right now.  He’s lonely because I cast him immediately out of the crib into the Amazon playground (http://amzn.to/1n1GY6z) – It’s a really big playground.  So, if you know of anyone who would like to play with my son, who enjoys running fast, but likes to take a few moments for reflection and contemplation, especially when it comes to dealing with life and death situations, please tell them about Stone Age.  He’s there now… waiting.

A 21st Century Attempt at a War of the Worlds Broadcast

War of the Worlds broadcast causes panic

War of the Worlds broadcast causes panic

On Halloween, October 30, 1938, Orson Wells broadcast The War of the Worlds on radio’s Mercury Theatre on the Air.  The 62 minute broadcast, made to sound like it was a live news show, shocked many who tuned in after the disclaimer, thinking that aliens were actually invading the US.  A small panic ensued, although the panic was more media generated, with 12,500 articles reporting on the broadcast, published over the following days.  Even Adolf Hitler was quoted as saying about the broadcast, that it was, “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy.” (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio_drama))

Opinions aside, this was one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns of its time, before viral marketing was even invented.  It made a name for Orson Wells, who went on to make great movies like Citizen Kane.

What if this were done today?  What if rather than using radio, the primary broadcast medium of its day, someone used today’s primary broadcast mediums: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and so on to broadcast a dramatization of some similar type of apocalyptic event?  Would it even work?  Let’s find out.

Today’s War of the Worlds

Then:  Orson Wells Today:  ML Banner

Orson Welles in 1937

Orson Welles in 1937

Things are so bright, you gotta wear shades?

M.L. Banner in 2014

Starting after April 1st (April Fool’s Day), I plan such an experiment, to herald the publishing of my debut novel, Stone Age.  We’ll see if I can channel my inner Orson Wells and get the word out.  Assuming it goes as planned, there will be some similarities to both broadcasts and some marketable differences:

Then:  Orson Wells’ broadcast did not draw a large share of the radio listening audience, because most Americans were listening to the more popular Edgar Bergen show.

Today:  I have very few social media followers.  So few in fact, it would be as if Orson Wells broadcasted to a small back alley.

Then:  War of the Worlds was broadcast for only 62 minutes.  But it was the press that carried the story several days: this is what made the story viral.

Today:  My plan is to broadcast “bulletins” from my soon to be released book over four or five days, leading up to my book’s release.  I am hoping that some social media influencers and some news sources will pick up my “broadcasts”, just as newspapers picked up the story of Orson Wells’ radio broadcasts.

What is Stone Age?

Stone Age

Stone Age

 

What if all   technology stopped?  This is the question posed in Stone Age, my debut book, and first in a new series of books (www.stoneageseries.com),   fictionalizing what would happen to a few people who survive a Carrington-Type Flare,   larger than the one that hit Earth on 1859.    Such an event, it is argued by scientists, would destroy most of our   technology: our power grid, water and food distribution, transportation,   communication, and most, if not all, common electronic devices.   This would result in the mass death of hundreds of millions and would essentially send our society back to a new   Stone Age.

An astrophysicist featured in my book said it best, “Any day now we will be hit with a solar   storm that will return us back to the Stone Age!” Dr. Carrington Reid

 

The Plan

One of the main characters of Stone Age is a fictional scientist who, issues bulletins throughout the book to his subscribers, calling attention to the potential coming apocalypse.   Each bulletin is successively worse than the previous one, until the last (announced the day before The Event) says: “It is coming!” and describes the ensuing apocalypse that will follow.

I will have my fictional scientist broadcast each “Bulletin” each day on his website – I created one a few months ago for just this purpose – and then he will share that Bulletin via social media.

ML Banner will then share this with my social media audience, using appropriate hash tags, such as #IsThisReal? And a tag line like “Carrington Flare coming any day!”  I’ll ask a few influencers to do the same in different communities:  Prepper, Social, Sci-Fi, Science, Media, Conspiracy, etc.

My hope is that the story of this will be picked up by larger mainstream media services, leading up to the release of my book a day or two after the last Bulletin’s release.

Well there is my plan.  I admit a certain selfishness is behind this plan, as my ultimate goal is to sell more books.  But, I’m also interested in how something like this will play, as I don’t know that it has been tried in recent history.

I’m also interested if it is possible for someone like me, who basically has no social media foot print, to spread the word based on a little fear and over dramatization.

Well Orson, here goes nothing.

Stone Age Cover

Stone Age Cover

I’m excited to announce that the book cover is now ready for my new debut novel, Stone Age.

It was designed by Keri Knutson at Alchemy Book Covers (http://www.alchemybookcovers.com/).

Publishing of Stone Age will be in a matter of days.

Want a free copy?  Until published, anyone who signs up to get updates from me will receive a free eBook copy of Stone Age right after it is available on Amazon.com.  All you have to do is enter your email address below and click on the Submit button.

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